Dropper posts are here to stay in the mountain bike world — even World Cup racers are running them for extra-technical tracks. New brands are offering more options, but Crankbrothers is not a first-timer in this segment, having licensed one of the original dropper designs, Maverick’s Speedball, way back when. After more than three months of testing, the Highline seems to be the best, most reliable Crankbrothers post yet.
Like a KS LEV Integra post, the Highline runs a shifter cable to actuate the cartridge in the post, which routes internally through the frame. However, unlike the KS, which has an air cartridge that can be pressurized to adjust dropper speed, the Highline is entirely hydraulic and speed isn’t adjustable. We were satisfied with the post’s speed and smoothness, but if you like a particularly fast rebound, the lack of adjustability may be a knock against the Highline.
The Highline is quite comparable to the LEV. But in one very noticeable way, Crankbrothers has the edge. The Highline lever is arguably the best dropper post button we’ve used so far. Designed with an ingenious ball-and-socket mount, you can position it in nearly limitless ways: above or below the bar, in or out to accommodate a bell (like ours). The lever is large and wide, affording ample leverage, and is easy to find on a bumpy trail.
In other respects, the Highline is competitive. It was easy to install and adjust. After months of riding, there is only minor seat wiggle, which is not noticeable while riding. The lever action remains relatively smooth.
While our overall experience with the Crankbrothers Highline has been positive, there are a few drawbacks (not flaws per se) that might turn you off. Crankbrothers doesn’t offer an external-routed cable option on this post, so your frame has to accept a dropper line. The post diameter is limited to 30.9mm and 31.6mm sizes. These are very common for mountain bikes, but know that KS offers 27.2mm and 34.9mm posts. Also notable: The Highline’s only travel option is 125mm, while the LEV is offered in 100mm, 125mm, and 150mm travel lengths.
What about RockShox’s ubiquitous Reverb? and distinguished by its full-hydraulic lever and cable, there isn’t a direct comparison between a Highline and a Reverb. However, if you’ve got an extra $ to burn and don’t mind bleeding the hydraulics periodically, RockShox offers an array of sizes, travel lengths, as well as an external-cable option.
So if your old dropper is tired or you want to join the party that is modern mountain bike technology, measure first. Will the seatpost diameter work? Do you need more or less than 125mm travel? Can you route an internal cable? If the Highline passes those tests, it’s a fine option if you want that great ergonomic lever or aren’t keen on RockShox’s full-hydraulic Reverb.
Component and accessory manufacturer Crankbrothers is re-entering the dropper seatpost market with the introduction of the Highline.
- 5in/125mm of adjustable travel
- Available in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters
- 400mm length
- Three year warranty
- 580g with cable and remote
- Internal routing only
- Available in late 2015
The Highline uses a two-bolt clamp and features a low, 50mm minimum stack height
The Laguna Beach, California-based company is acutely aware that it will be fighting an uphill battle to win back rider confidence following the reliability issues that plagued its previous dropper design.
“This dropper is the anti-Kronolog,” said a Crankbrothers representative at Eurobike this week.
Those hard-earned lessons appear to have been taken to heart. According to Crankbrothers, the Highline places a premium on reliability, ergonomics and ease of use. Crankbrothers is standing behind the Highline with a three-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects — a first for any dropper seatpost.
The company claims the Highline lasted through 40,000 cycles in lab testing, compared to 12,000 cycles for a competitor’s seatpost.
The Highline offers 5in/125mm of adjustable travel via a nitrogen-charged cartridge damping system. The cartridge isn’t user-serviceable, but it can be easily removed, should it need to be replaced. The company suggests cleaning the dropper’s seal and lubricating it with Slick Honey annually.
Crankbrothers makes heavy use of Igus bushings in its 2016 pedal and dropper lines. The Highline uses high quality Igus glide bearings and keys
The Highline remote takes design cues from the remote used on the Kronolog (possibly the only well-thought out part of that design). The lever now pivots on a ball joint, allowing the rider to fine tune its position. The handlebar clamp is slim to minimize interference issues with brake and shift levers. A single screw tightens the Highline’s lever to the handlebar while also clamping the ball joint in place. The shift cable is clamped at the lever with an inconspicuous set screw. There’s also a barrel adjuster to dial in cable tension. Given the dearth of ergonomic dropper remotes on the market, Crankbrothers would be wise to sell the remote as a standalone item.
The Highline remote is well designed and should place nice with any combination of brake/shift levers
Working back from the lever, Crankbrothers includes a premium cable and housing from Jagwire. The Highline uses a clever quick-connect interface with the seatpost. This system should make it easy to remove the Highline for travel, or to quickly swap the seatpost between multiple bikes.
A quick connect system makes it the Highline easy to install or remove
Review by Bike Radar